By: Adam Sutton
Mr. Allen is sitting at his desk. His final class before lunch just ended. Rita, his star student asked, or maybe begged, him to email her mother. Apparently, her mother believes that Rita did not turn in her essay on Animal Farm. Mr. Allen finds the whole idea of Rita not turning in an assignment preposterous. The kid has a 100% average. She hasn’t missed a single question on any test. She could skip the entire essay and still get an “A.”
With his back to the door, typing away, Mr. Allen notices the pitch of sound in the hall change. It’s hard to describe. It’s different. Not really louder than normal but more concentrated. He swivels in his chair. There are more kids outside the door than normal, and they aren’t really moving.
He knows it before he hears the words: “FIGHT!”
Up from his seat and through the crowd, he’s too late. Two boys. Big kids. Intent on landing haymakers. Dan and Marcus. Neither are new to this rodeo. It’s a fair fight, and all that courses through Mr. Allen’s head are visions of hockey fights where the refs circle the fight waiting for the participants to lose steam. He keeps the crowd back. Dan cracks Marcus on the jaw. Marcus stumbles. Dan lunges on top of him. Lands 2 more blows before Mr. Allen tackles Dan to the ground, pinning him until an administrator can get there, or until Dan settles down enough to be let up.
“Why does my son have a bruise on his elbow? He said he got it when he was tackled by YOUR teacher. Why is YOUR teacher touching my boy?” screamed Dan’s mom.
“Ms. Jordan, that incident was 2 weeks ago. Is it possible that Dan got the bruise somewhere else?” Principal Lee asked.
“Don’t make excuses. Your teacher assaulted my son. I want to press charges. He can’t be at a school like this. With people like you!” she continued to scream.
“Ma’am, your son nearly knocked another student unconscious. The young man got 5 stitches in that incident. I’m—”
“Like I said: excuses! Next year, we won’t be back!”
“Mr. Allen, could you email my mom?” Rita asked.
“Rita, what on Earth would I email her for?” Mr. Allen responded.
“She’s concerned I don’t have enough homework.”
“Don’t you have a different after school club every day?”
“Don’t you have soccer and lacrosse practice like twice a week too?”
“Gosh. I can’t—”
“I just need you to tell her that I’m doing fine and working hard. If you think you’ve got it tough, my phone does not stop buzzing with messages. Please talk to her!”
“Ok. Ok,” Mr. Allen shook his head.
As Rita headed to lunch, Dan sauntered in. “Hey, Mr. Allen. You got a second?”
“Sure, Dan. What’s up?”
Extracting a piece of paper that looks like it has been folded, run over with a car then placed in the dryer, he asked, “Do you think you could fill out this recommendation form for me? It’s due this afternoon.”